PHILADELPHIA, PA (September 13, 2018) – The family of 24-year-old Emily Fredricks, who was killed as she biked to work in Center City last November, is transforming their grief into significant action, as a result of a landmark $6 million-plus settlement agreement in Emily’s name, to help make Philadelphia’s streets safer for bicyclists.
Emily, a cautious, helmet-wearing cyclist, was struck and killed by a trash truck operated by Gold Medal Environmental while riding her bicycle in the intersection of 11th and Spruce Streets. The driver, who was making a right turn at that intersection, told police at the scene that he never saw her.
Emily’s family, who live in East Brunswick, N.J., was determined to make sure that what happened to their daughter, an aspiring top-shelf chef, could not happen again to another bicyclist in Philadelphia. Working collaboratively with trial attorneys Larry Bendesky and Robert W. Zimmerman, from Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, P.C., Stuart Leon, the city’s leading bicycle lawyer, and Zachary S. Leon, of Stuart Leon Bicycle Crash Law, they developed an innovative plan to not just reach an acceptable settlement, but create a partnership for positive change and enhanced public safety. After several months of negotiations with Gold Medal’s lead attorney, Theodore M. Schaer, of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy P.C., the settlement was reached. Significantly, it was all accomplished without what could have been protracted litigation with an uncertain outcome.
“Philadelphia’s citizens will directly benefit from this settlement that could only be achieved through the cooperation of all parties and determination to do the right thing by Emily,” said Mr. Bendesky.
The highlights of the agreement include:
- $6 million in compensatory damages paid to Emily’s estate.
- In addition, and in Emily’s name, Gold Medal will fund a $125,000 contribution – in five annual $25,000 installments – to local organizations committed to improving the safety of Philadelphia roads. The Fredricks family and company representatives will jointly determine the recipients.
- Gold Medal, since the incident under new ownership-management, enhancing its truck driver safety program, under the direction of a highly qualified independent highway safety expert, and including a new training curriculum on urban vehicle operations, rigorous obstacle course instruction at its new, advanced training facility, and intensive behind-the-wheel interactions with bicyclists.
- Emily’s parents will meet and speak with the company’s drivers and management about the vital importance of driving safely and the consequences of failing to do so.
- Drivers are also now eligible, under a new incentive program, for significant salary bonuses that reward accident-free driving.
Mr. Zimmerman, of SMBB, added, “The Fredricks family made clear from the outset that justice for Emily had to translate into safer streets for everyone, whether they traveled by bike, by car, or on foot.”
Richard and Laura Fredricks, Emily’s parents, said they also think Emily would be proud of what has been accomplished. “We live everyday heartbroken over the loss of our precious daughter, searching for some way to see some good result from her passing. With this agreement, we feel lives can and will be saved by making Philadelphia’s streets safer for bicyclists, as well drivers – truck and car – and also pedestrians.”
Mr. Leon, a renowned bicycle attorney and safety advocate, said he is honored to be part of this “enlightened, far-reaching agreement where the parties stayed focused on the goal of creating a safer environment for cyclists, vehicles, and all others that share the streets of Philadelphia.”
He added, “We are grateful to the Fredricks family for displaying an immense degree of dedication, courage and compassion that I feel certain will make a big difference for bicyclists and motorists in our city for generations to come. I also commend my co-counsel from Saltz Mongeluzzi, Mr. Schaer and Gold Medal’s new ownership and management team.”
Steph Rosenfeld / firstname.lastname@example.org / 215.514.4101